Consumer Clinic Wins Major Victory

Posted: 2007-02-09 09:00:00

On January 25, 2007, the UW Law School's Consumer Law Litigation Clinic achieved an important victory in a case against Cross Country Bank (CCB), which markets its credit cards to lower-income consumers with credit and debt problems.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals, upholding the earlier opinion of Dane County Circuit Court Judge Robert DeChambeau, ruled that CCB's arbitration clause, which applied Delaware law to any dispute arising from the Wisconsin clients' credit card contracts, and prohibited class action suits) is both substantively and procedurally unconscionable.

Clinical instructor Sarah Mervine of the Consumer Clinic supervised most of the brief writing on this case. UW law students who drafted the briefs were Neil Bjorkman, Michael Carr, Bonnie Cosgrove, Susan Kurien, Bree Linck, Holly Pomraning, and Travis Weller.

Attorney Paul Bland of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice circulated an e-mail message on the significant impact of the opinion. Bland, the preeminent attorney challenging mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts throughout the U.S., commented, "It's a terrific decision... I think it will be widely cited, and I'd expect that plaintiffs who have this issue pending in courts around the country will probably be doing supplemental briefs to make sure that courts know about it. Congratulations to the lawyers and students of the University of Wisconsin Consumer Law Litigation Clinic for winning this huge victory."

Professor Steve Meili, Director of the Consumer Clinic, commented, "This decision continues a recent trend of Wisconsin courts rejecting mandatory arbitration clauses that deprive consumers of important rights."

Read the full text of the opinion.

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